Know What to Do Before Your Business is in Trouble
Mother Nature has an odd sense of humor and no problem doling out reality checks from time to time.
Sometimes we forget how susceptible we are to disaster. No matter how much we prepare or plan, there are some things that are completely out of our control. As Hurricane Harvey swept through Texas, many were left without homes or jobs and some were displaced from their families.
It is times like these that show the fragility of our life on Earth and makes us come to the harsh realization that disaster can strike at any moment.
Even in Missouri, we experience our own forms of natural disasters every year, ranging from severe flooding to tornados. As easy as it is to think that your business is safe, the threat of a natural disaster is very real.
Small business are particularly vulnerable to the damages that arise from natural disasters. If you are the owner of a small business, it goes without saying that you have invested in yourself and have staked your livelihood on the business you created. So the question arises, what measures have you taken to ensure that your business will stay afloat in the event of a disaster?
This is where a business continuity and a disaster recovery plan come into play. Even though you can’t control the weather, there are steps you can take to mitigate the damages and minimize the risk when disaster strikes.
Take some time to ask the hard questions. What are the chances a natural disaster will hit your business? To what extent will these damages affect your business? How much will it cost to rebuild? Though it sounds harsh, assuming the worst is the best way to analyze risk. Using qualitative risk analysis, identify the various threats to your business and come up with potential counter-measures to address these threats. Going through each scenario will show where your weakest points are and reduce the amount of panic instilled if and when you are hit by a natural disaster.
Protect Your Data
For many organizations, data is one of the most essential components. They’ve become much less dependent on paper products, relying on computers to store and manage the information that flows in and out. It is imperative that in the event of a natural disaster this data remains intact and uncompromised. Depending on your business, you could survive just by backing up your data frequently, but, for others, constant access to data through the cloud is a necessity. Your IT department should also have a plan to recover this data in the event that some of it is lost.
Let’s say, worst case scenario, a tornado rolls through and leaves your office uninhabitable. Where would you go? As part of your disaster recovery plan, you need to decide what to do if your primary workspace is severely damaged. Having a second location where your business can operate temporarily will minimize the amount of time your business remains offline. It also keeps your employees from running around like chickens with their heads cut off. This location will act as a centralized place that employees can report to and receive the necessary information to keep the business running. Though it may be slow getting your business running at full capacity, little work is better than no work at all.
The best way to prepare for disaster it to simulate disaster itself. It’s one thing to have a plan, but unless this plan is tested on a regular basis, no one will fully understand what to do. Organize and prioritize the most important systems in your business and work your way down. Inform your employees and make them a part of the process, so there’s less confusion should disaster strike. Simulating disasters will give you a good indication on what areas need more help than others and creates a benchmark for roughly how long it will take for your business to get up and running again.
Murphy’s Law says it best, “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”
Refrain from complacency, even the biggest organizations can fall as a result of a natural disaster. Ask yourself the hard questions and prepare for the worst. In doing so, your business will be prepared when Mother Nature bares her teeth.